Meister – Question 5
5What is the biggest issue facing data curation now: technology, infrastructure, staffing, training, or something else?
Digital Archivist and Assistant Professor, Mansfield Library – University of Montana
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 From my perspective, these issues of technology, infrastructure, staffing, and training are all important issues that can directly impact data curation both within local institutional settings and more generally as a field, but I would argue that a larger cultural issue surrounds and affects all of these elements.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 The skills and knowledge that data curation professionals need draw from and cut across multiple fields and disciplines. The holistic approach of data curation and its application in multiple industries and sectors challenges traditional boundaries that differentiate cultural heritage professionals. These are, in part, based on the identity of libraries, archives, and museums as institutions defined by the types of materials collected, as well as how those materials are accessed and used. Data curation as a profession represents recognition of the needs of twenty-first-century creators and users and articulates a shift away from traditional boundaries and professional identities. Many groups and individuals have encouraged this shift, but as with any kind of change, there is still hesitation to fully embrace data curation within and across cultural heritage professions.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 In the United States context, the professional identity of the archivist is connected to a strong set of principles, theories, and practice. Many of the methods and concepts that make up core archival principles reflect the key skills and knowledge that data curation professionals need. Despite these similarities, the traditional notion that the archivist steps in once materials are transferred from the donor to the archives is still the norm. Even in our current moment of digital information ubiquity, this traditional understanding of the role and responsibilities of the archivist is pervasive both within and outside the profession. Data curation encompasses a broader view of the information continuum and illustrates the value of information professionals engaging with creators and users throughout this process. Data curation offers an opportunity to re-envision the role of the archivist as shifting towards a more active engagement as service provider, system designer, and/or data management consultant. To encourage this shift, the cultural heritage community needs to continue to support the development of new data curation skills and knowledge through training and professional development opportunities. In addition, we need to continue to articulate our value and relevance to our local institutions and society as a whole by moving beyond traditional boundaries and professional identities. Data curation, as a conceptual approach and new discipline, provides a framework to make increasingly blurry traditional boundaries even more permeable, a transformation that cultural heritage professionals should wholeheartedly embrace.